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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ben Franklin redux

I just learned something new about gentle Ben Franklin. Apparently he claimed he could have achieved independence for the colonies at 25% of the cost of the Revolutionary War, if our incipient Congress had granted him the cash to spread around to various members of the British Parliament, who were known for their corruption.

That's right. We could have paid them off, and they would have given us our freedom without a war.

Makes one wonder about our present Congress, and all the money they spend.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Voltaire and Rousseau

I'm listening to music from the play "Les Miserables", based on the book by Victor Hugo, as I research events in Europe leading up to the American and French revolutions. Time frame: 1724 - 1794.

Little did George Washington now his skirmish in the woods at Jumonville would precipitate the French and Indian War in America, and the Seven Years War in Europe. 2 million dead in Europe. Nothing changed. A good example of futility in action.

Almost.

Because things always change, even when they appear to stay the same...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ben Franklin, coolness personified.

Ben Franklin amazes from across the chasm of space and time. First he tamed the lightning using a kite and a key. Then he helped bring down a tyrant.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Finally, the Industrial Revolution...

I'm happy to have reached the Age from 1724 to 1794, after nearly 2500 years of history. The Industrial Revolution culminated in the American Revolution, followed by the French Revolution. As usual, the amount of information available for this Age dwarfs that of older Ages. C'est la vie.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japanese earthquake and tsunami

I tend to analyze things in terms of the 70-year cycle of history. From this point of view, one feels struck by the gap between the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, and the 9.0 earthquake that struck Japan in 2011, almost exactly 70 years later. The first was an act of the United States government. The second was an act of God.

Young people around the world may think of Japan as the place that got hit by the tsunami, instead of the place that got nuked by the US. That could turn out as a good thing for the security of the United States.

It's always safer to treat acts of God as random, natural events, than as omens or portents of the future. Even if we venture into the murky water, we can only truly know the poetic meaning of an omen in hindsight. With these caveats, the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown in Japan offers two ripe possibilities for symbolism. One - it could mark the end of a period of war that started on 9/11, just as the original nukes ended World War II. Two - on the other hand, if things get a whole lot worse, if the Middle East erupts into a massive civil war for the heart and soul of Islam, then we might in hindsight take the earthquake as a marker for how the fight against tyranny and fascism picked up where it left off at the end of World War II.

Either way, it makes an interesting literary device to understand world events in the context of a 70-year cycle.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Age of Oliver Cromwell

Working right now on the Age that lasted from 1654 to 1724. It really started with the 1648 Peace of Westphalia which ended the religious wars in Europe. They learned religious tolerance instead. It ended with the invention of the steamengine. Most famous guy: Isaac Newton. He more or less discovered the mechanics of how the world works.

We still have no clue about gravity.

Monday, March 7, 2011

First Post

I expect to finish "A Brief History of the World" by mid-April. When finished it'll run to about 200 pages. Not a bad way to learn everything about human civilization! For those not familiar with my work, in this book I break history down into Ages, each of which lasts 70 years, more or less the lifespan of human beings for most of history. In 70 years humanity almost completely replaces itself with new people. I boil it all down to relevant facts and people, and have endeavored to make it an easy, light read. The kind of thing a person could enjoy on the beach in the summer.